Breeders Cup could offer plenty of value

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Ted Black

November 2nd, 2018

Thoroughbred racing fans and players from across the globe will be seeking to cash tickets on Saturday afternoon when Churchill Downs hosts the 35th edition of the Breeders Cup Championships and several races include short-priced favorites who may be more vulnerable than they appear on paper.

In one of the early, non-Breeders Cup races on the Saturday card, look for Maryland-bred Still Having Fun to regain his winning ways in the $200,000 Cherokee Run Stakes, named in honor of a previous Breeders Cup sprint hero and prior victor of the Grade I Frank DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park, coincidentally where Still Having Fun is based for conditioner Tim Keefe. Still Having Fun already sports a sharp score in the Grade II, $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard and looks poised to regain his winning ways in this spot.

But those seeking serious value will have to wait until much later in the afternoon. Pundits are already crowning two-time Arc de Triomphe winner Enable as the heroine of the $5 million Breeders Cup Turf. But Arc winners are often overbet and underachieve in subsequent visits to the United States and she cannot be backed at a short price. Instead, Waldgeist, appears to be the solid value play in the race having exited the Arc where he was fourth as Enable prevailed as the even-money choice.

Then one race later in the $6 million Classic, a race that should determine champion older dirt male while not having any impact on horse of the year in light of the early retirement of Triple Crown winner Justify, Mendelssohn merits serious upset chances in a race where Accelerate looms the favorite. In his most recent outing, Mendelssohn was hooked in a speed duel with Diversify through insane fractions of 45.3 and 1:09 flat for a 10-furlong outing and still held third as longshot Discreet Lover rallied for a 45-1 shocker.

With the absence of Diversify, Mendelssohn will not have to work nearly as hard to gain the lead early or press the issue and he should have plenty left in the tank turning for home and potentially prevail as an overlooked 9-1 shot. A first- or second-place effort for Accelerate will vault that runner to an Eclipse Award as champion older male, but from post 12 in a race where he is hardly the lone speed his chances of success at a short price look shaky.

Then several hours after the Breeders Cup Classic, Charles Town will offer the $50,000 West Virginia Futurity for state-bred two-year-old colts and geldings and one filly. Burnin Ring O Fire arrives as the solid choice with three wins from as many starts, including stakes victories in the $75,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial and the $50,000 Henry Mercer Memorial over the strip. But Moscarelli runner-up Midday Man is the solid play here at 3-1 or higher having overcome early traffic woes to finish second to Burnin Ring O Fire on West Virginia Breeders Classic night and should be well worth the wait for those seeking to turn in early after the Breeders Cup card concludes.